When you first started on this journey, you probably didn’t think it would take this long to get pregnant. Perhaps you gave yourself a limit as to how many fertility treatment cycles or how much time you would allow yourself to try naturally before considering alternatives. It’s important to create some sort of threshold of what you can handle; not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, and financially as well. A crucial step in this process is feeling like you did everything you could to achieve a healthy pregnancy.
If age or egg quality have been factors for you on this journey then you probably have felt rushed to squeeze in treatment cycle after treatment cycle. The good news with egg donation is that age and egg quality are no longer a factor for you. You may need to grieve the loss of using your own eggs before you can consider collaborative reproduction. This takes time. Try not to rush through the grieving process. Once you’ve moved through those pivotal stages of denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, you are more likely to allow yourself to accept that egg donation is a good option for you.
Make a choice
Egg donation might not be your first choice, but people choose to pursue this route because it is the best option for them. The first egg donation was a little over 30 years ago, so the process is still very new. It’s a personal choice and one that takes a lot of thoughtful care and planning. There is freedom in choice, but sometimes reviewing all of the options can be overwhelming. Try not to let others’ opinions influence your decision. They aren’t making this choice; it’s for you and your partner (if you have one). When you are ready, you may want to share the decision with a trusted friend or relative. Consider who may be a good person for you to confide in. Remember, once you tell you cannot “untell.” If you don’t feel like you have a good source of support, then you can choose not to tell anyone right now, and that is ok!
Fertility treatments are costly, time-consuming, painful, and stressful; doctors and nurses using terminology you barely understand don’t help either. But remember that you are your own best advocate. Ask questions if you don’t understand. Speak up. Take notes. Be the “annoying” patient. It’s better to know upfront than be surprised later. If you are educated and informed, it will give you the power to make decisions that are best for you. If your clinic has a mental health professional on staff, you may want to speak with them. Otherwise, you may want to get a referral to speak with someone privately. Sometimes it’s easier to speak with a complete stranger about what you are going through. There are communities of women just like you. Check out Resolve.org for local, peer-led support groups or nonprofits dedicated to supporting women through their family building journey.
There is no time like the present moment. Worrying about the future likely won’t serve you right now. You have an important job to do, and that is making sure you are in the best space possible to carry a pregnancy. Take care of yourself. Do the things you love to do and try not to worry about what’s to come. When you find your mind wandering bring yourself back to your breathing. It is a constant cycle of energy you can focus on if you need to regroup. Remember, you’re in control. You’ve got this!
Michelle Duchin began her career as a clinical social worker at one of New York City’s top-rated fertility clinics. For nearly a decade, Michelle provided supportive counseling to individuals and couples considering advanced reproductive technology to build their families. Michelle joined Treece and Associates Psychotherapy as a full-time clinician when she moved to Chicago and sees individuals and couples experiencing a range of issues including anxiety, grief, loss, academic/professional transitions, and more. She received a certificate in Yoga-Informed Psychotherapy, which allows her to incorporate mindfulness and breathing techniques in addition to traditional talk therapy. Michelle also conducts assessments for egg donors, sperm donors, gestational carriers, and intended parents who are pursuing third-party reproductive care. For more information about insurance accepted or services provided by Michelle Duchin, please visit her practice website: www.chicagotherapy.com
In recent years, we’ve been learning about the impact of quality of fats on our health. The focus should be on including healthy fats, instead of on following a low fat diet. The same is true for fertility. We learned in the Nurses’ Health Study that higher intake of trans fats was associated with ovulatory infertility. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids seem to impact fertility in a variety of ways.
Let’s back up and review the different types of omega-3 fatty acids. The plant source omega-3 fatty acid (like walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseed) is called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and the animal source omega-3 fatty acids (like cold water fatty fish, eggs, and grassfed beef) are EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA may have beneficial impacts on our health and fertility. Our body is able to convert a small amount of ALA into EPA and DHA, but this conversion is inefficient. Going right to the source by getting EPA and DHA from fish, eggs, and supplements is your best bet.
Studies have looked at the impact of omega-3 fatty acids on embryo quality, PCOS, endometriosis, and sperm quality. Higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with better embryo quality when doing IVF. An additional animal study showed similar results. In a randomized controlled trial of men with low sperm count, motility, and morphology, EPA and DHA supplementation improved all three of these sperm parameters compared to placebo. In PCOS, omega-3 fatty acids may help lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and reduce insulin resistance. Higher intakes of omega-3 fatty acids have also been associated with lower risk for endometriosis, and in an animal model of endometriosis, omega-3 fatty acids helped induced regression of endometriosis lesions.
Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, have many potential fertility benefits. Eating low mercury fatty fish is beneficial, however it’s important to keep even low mercury fish intake to 12 oz per week. Thus EPA and DHA supplementation is often recommended in order to take in omega-3 fatty acids on a daily basis.
Try our EPA/DHA in July and save 20% while supplies last! Use promo code EPA20 when checking out in our online store here.
Hammiche F, Vujkovic M, Wijburg W, et al. Increased preconception omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake improves embryo morphology. Fertility and Sterility. 2011; 95(5):1820-1823.
Yang K, Zeng L, Bao T, et al. Effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids for polycystic ovarian syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2018;16:27.
Safarinejad MR. Effect of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on semen profile and enzymatic antioxidant capacity of seminal plasma in infertile men with idiopathic oligoasthenoteratospermia: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. Andrologia. 2010;43:38-47.
An exciting new study shows promising results for CoQ10 supplementation in women with poor ovarian reserve doing IVF. In the study, 186 women under age 35 with poor ovarian reserve, defined as Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) < 1.2 ng/mL, and antral follicle count (AFC) < 5, were randomized to receive either treatment with 600 mg CoQ10 (200 mg 3 times per day) or control (no treatment) for 60 days leading up to their IVF cycle.
The results were pretty striking. The CoQ10 group had significantly more high quality day 3 embryos (1 vs. 0 in the control group), significantly less gonadotropins needed for stimulation, significantly more eggs retrieved (4 vs. 2 in the control group), and significantly higher fertilization rate (67% vs. 45% in the control group). In addition, significantly more patients who took CoQ10 had embryos to freeze (18.4% vs. 4.3% in the control group). The CoQ10 group also had higher pregnancy rates (32% vs. 17% in the control group) and higher live birth rates (29% vs. 16% in the control group), but these results were not statistically significant.
CoQ10 is an antioxidant and plays an essential in energy production in our body cells, including maturing eggs. CoQ10 is thought to exert its beneficial effects by neutralizing free radicals that could damage the DNA or other structures within the egg. Damage to DNA can prevent fertilization or result in a nonviable embryo. In addition, because of CoQ10’s role in energy production, CoQ10 likely also supports the energy needs of maturing eggs, thus leading to better quality eggs and embryos. CoQ10 tends to be a safe and well-tolerated supplement, and in this study, there were no adverse effects reports from supplementing with CoQ10.
Absorption of CoQ10 is best when the dose is divided into 3 doses with meals during the day. Because CoQ10 is fat-soluble, having fat with CoQ10 increases the absorption. Learn more about our CoQ10 supplement here.
Reference: Xu Y, Nisenblat V, Cuiling L, et al. Pretreatment with coenzyme Q10 improves ovarian response and embryo quality in low-prognosis young women with decreased ovarian reserve: a randomized controlled trial. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. 2018;16:29.
**Save 25% off CoQ10 in June with the promo code EGG25! Available in-center and online while supplies last.
There has never been a better time to be a woman. In the age of the #MeToo movement, more promising women in leadership roles, and the modern day revolution for women empowerment has provided options for women that in previous generations never dreamed possible. For many, the idea of freezing one’s eggs for use at a later time is growing from unthinkable option to a remarkable thing to do for one’s self. Egg freezing improvements and technology provides women with options that did not exist for their mothers and grandmothers.
The egg freezing solution pauses the biological clock for women and has gained in popularity, with major organizations and companies providing as part of their employment package. The egg freezing procedure is becoming more affordable with new startup companies like Future Family or Nest Egg Fertility providing fertility-focused assistance to address how patients can afford the treatments. However, it is still a big decision so let’s break down the advantages of freezing eggs.
FACT: Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have in their lifetime. From around one million at birth, that number decreases to 300,000 around the age puberty begins. The number of eggs each woman has decreases as she ages and significantly drops around 35 years old for the average woman.
SOLUTION: Egg freezing can collect and save eggs from a women’s cycle that would otherwise be lost and freeze them in time to preserve her biological age for a greater chance of pregnancy at a later time. Eggs that are not fertilized during the ovulation cycle will dissolve and be resorbed into your body. More women will freeze their eggs in their mid to late-twenties, which is recommended by fertility specialists for optimal results. Women in early to mid-thirties are the second most common age group. Both of these age groups are better options than freezers in the past mostly in their late-30s or early-40s where pregnancy significantly declines.
FACT: There is a growing amount of women pursuing advance education and careers pushing back the timeline for women to start their families. Equally, dating methods have shifted in the social era and world of social media and swiping apps.
SOLUTION: Motivation for egg freezing can also be social in nature, such as when a woman chooses to delay pregnancy in order to advance her career or because she has not found the right partner. There is not one simple reason why women choose to freeze their eggs. Reasons for egg freezing can vary widely, including medical, social or other personal motivations. In cases in which women might freeze their eggs for fertility preservation medical reasons include a recent cancer diagnosis or a family history of cancer, endometriosis, and early menopause.
A study published in 2015 concluded that the majority of women who choose to freeze eggs in the absence of presenting medical conditions, do so because they are single and are hoping to buy time in their search for a suitable partner (Stoop et. al 2015).
FACT: Egg freezing is more complicated than freezing sperm, but has improved tremendously in recent years moving away from “slow freezing” the older way of cryopreservation to “vitrification” the newer egg freezing method approved by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) in late 2012.
SOLUTION: The published literature regarding the limitations and potential benefits of these techniques, as of 2015, there seems to be a general consensus in the scientific community that vitrification is the better of the two methods. Most IVF centers nowadays have adopted vitrification as the standard method for cryopreserving eggs, but this is a good question to ask your clinic.
To start an egg freezing process, the physicians will order a fertility wellness check. The evaluation includes a blood test for Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH test) to predict how many eggs you have left and vaginal ultrasound known as antral follicle count (AFC test) to analyze the number of possible follicles that could grow. When women become an officially an “egg freezer” they are equipped with their own little safe-deposit box of DNA until family-building fits their timeline.
The concept of egg freezing can be misconstrued in the media or portrayed as desperate act of what baby-hungry women are doing, but after interviewing over 75 women who have electively undergone egg freezing it is remarkable how similar each journey of these women actually take. There is some natural fear or anxiety associated with pre-egg freezing people considering the technology, like assuming that the entire procedure only exists to frighten women and cause undue stress about their fertility and the time they “have left” to build their family, but after each women finished their freezing procedure not a single person regrets making the choice.
Curious about egg freezing? Want to learn more? Join our #EggClub community and hear what real-life current egg freezers are saying about cryopreservation. I encourage you to visit eggsperience.com website for your girlfriend’s guide and one-stop shop for all things egg freezing. Then don’t forget to listen to the Eggology Club podcast to hear the modern day journey to parenthood of people who have used fertility preservation options as Season 2 launches Spring 2018.
ABOUT VALERIE LANDIS
Valerie Landis has been working in women’s health field for the last decade. Her medical career experiences and passion for helping women merged when she founded her educational website eggsperience.com . She focuses on guiding women of any reproductive age through the complex and challenging paths of fertility decisions. Valerie compliments the Eggsperience website by hosting a fertility podcast called Eggology Club to change the conversation around cryopreservation and egg freezing. Valerie provides non-bias and fact-based information to empower women to feel inspired, brave, and act progressively to take control of their future families and protect their fertility. She speaks openly about her own personal egg freezing experience and family planning decisions along with highlighting a collection of first-hand accounts from other women’s fertility journeys.
Did you know that there are a variety of vitamin and minerals that may impact your fertility? Our bodies require 27 vitamins and minerals to function properly. These vitamins and minerals are involved in a wide variety of processes in our bodies including breaking down our food for energy, allowing cells to communicate with each other, contracting our muscles, as well as bone and skin health. Specific nutrients may also impact fertility and pregnancy, including folate (important for DNA integrity), iodine (essential for thyroid hormone production), and vitamin D (thought to be involved in embryo implantation), just to name a few!
It can feel overwhelming to make sure you’re getting enough of these nutrients on a daily basis. Instead of trying to track how much you’re getting of each nutrient, it’s helpful to focus on eating a nutrient dense diet. Nutrient density refers to the concentration of vitamins and minerals per calorie of food. In order to maximize the nutrient density of your diet, start by focusing on these tips:
Eat whole, real, and minimally processed foods.
Limit refined grains and added sugars.
Maximize your vegetable intake by including at least 5 servings of vegetables per day. Work on including a variety of different vegetables. Does 5 servings per day seem too daunting? Start where you are, and set a goal of increasing your vegetable intake by 1 serving per day.
Include especially nutrient dense foods like leafy green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, berries, and nuts and seeds.
Would you like to dig deeper and make sure you’re meeting your daily nutrient needs? Are you a vegetarian or vegan, or do you have other food intolerances or allergies that mean you’ve had to eliminate foods or food groups? Schedule a nutrition appointment today to ensure that you’re meeting your daily vitamin and mineral needs to maximize your fertility. Try our FREE special event for National Infertility Awareness Spring Cleaning: Using Yoga and Nutrition to Cleanse !
Medical research shows that acupuncture can influence hormone secretion from the pituitary hypothalamus and ovaries, collectively called the (HPO) axis. One of the most recent studies was conducted at Georgetown University Medical Center, July 2015; they found that acupuncture balances this HPO axis.
When an acupuncture needle is inserted into a specific acupuncture point this triggers the release of prostaglandins and opioid peptides into the bloodstream which lead to the production of a substance that transmits messages to the hypothalamus and pituitary and then transmits to the ovaries.
The acupuncture normalizes the secretion of the hormones such as (GrRH), (FSH), and (LH). This improves ovarian function creating more follicles and better egg quality.
The (HPO) Hypothalamus pituitary ovarian axis can be disrupted by stress, poor diet, age, etc. However this (HPO) axis can be positively influenced by many things, especially acupuncture.
The bottom line; women’s follicles and egg development can be enhanced by the balance of the endocrine system. Acupuncture balances the endocrine system.
We, at PDtM, recommend weekly acupuncture sessions to get the hormones in better balance and to help get the body as relaxed as possible. Acupuncture is accumulative therefore regular sessions can help shift the body in the direction the patient is looking for.